Why Do I Have Back/Shoulder Pain?

So many people have back and shoulder pain. The problem is that many of those people don’t really understand what is causing it.

Hint: It’s probably not your discs and rotator cuff irregularities.

In this video I talk about some easy steps you can take to discover what may be really causing your pain and how to get started in fixing it.

This video is not meant to diagnose your specific issue but I do cover the most common things I see on a daily basis and the causes.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

How Fitness Confuses People

I want to do something a little different today. A few weeks back I put this question out on Facebook:

What are you most confused about when it comes to fitness or nutrition?

Fitness Confusion

I got some great questions that I thought would help a lot of people so I decided to post them here today. Let’s get started!

Jay – How does a person begin to workout when you have absolutely no clue as to what to do or where (or even how) to start?

This is a great question! So many people just don’t know how to start and that just stops people in their tracks! My answer is to keep it simple. First, what are your goals? They don’t need to be complicated. At first it may be as simple as wanting to feel a little better and more energetic, or lose a few pounds. Second, just do something. If you don’t do anything right now, schedule a walk 3 times per week. The key is to understand that progress is what you’re looking for. You want to build sustainable habits. If you feel you need a little more instruction or accountability, hire a trainer. Obviously, I think there’s value there. The overall key is to keep things simple. Nutrition and fitness should be simple! Find something you enjoy doing, schedule time to do it and just do it. The keys to this are just being consistent, working hard, engaging in the process, and following whatever program you’re doing. I hope this helps. If you want to talk more about this just let me know. I know that there is sooooo much info out there and so many people have a lot invested in trying to make it sounds really complicated. It really doesn’t have to be. When you are writing I’m sure you have a process you go through. This is the same thing.

Michael – Negotiating my back injury and aging into an effective routine. I haven’t found my groove, and I desperately want to feel better about my body and health.

injuries can definitely make it difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is simply the fear of making it worse. Unfortunately, this can be the worst aspect of an injury and can lead people to actually make it worse through inactivity! As I told Jay, the key is to keep it simple. If you have an injury it is imperative to focus on your basic movement and posture. Most back issues actually have more to do with your hips and how they move then the back itself. I don’t know if this is the case for you, but even if it isn’t, improving your hip movement will always be something that will help your back to some extent. If you want to find your groove my advice to you would be to figure out your schedule and figure out how much time you will devote to some exercise. Notice how I said “will devote to some exercise”, not “can devote”. You have to 100% honest with yourself about what you will do even it’s only once a week for 15 minutes. The worst thing you can do is tell yourself you’ll do something 4 times a week and then not be able to follow through. You’ve got to get your mindset in a good place and build from there. Remember that you are looking for progress and a way to build sustainable habits. I hope that helps.

Darcy – I think for me it is a combination and how fitness and nutrition work together. Does a person who is training for a marathon eat differently than someone who is preparing to lift weights? Does someone who wants to lose weight eat differently if they are working out regularly, sporadically or not at all?

Your question is definitely a little complex. To put it simply, your goals definitely determine how you eat. You should certainly eat differently if you were a distance runner as opposed to a weightlifter, although how this looks does vary from person to person depending on their body type, how they respond to different foods and where they are now with their nutrition. As far as weight loss, there would be some difference if someone is working out but not as much as you may think, at least initially. Remember that calories determine weight loss and in the grand scheme of things we actually don’t burn that many calories during exercise. One mistake that people make when they’re trying to lose weight is that think that because they’re exercising they can eat more than they really can. An easy calculation when trying to lose weight is to multiply your weight by about 1.4 or 1.5 to determine calories if you are very active. For example an active 180 pound person may be able to lose weight at about 2500 calories per day. Now, that’s not a very aggressive number and it’s just a starting point. For a more sedentary person we multiply by 1.2 or 1.3 and get about 2200 calories. We can adjust from there.

Monica – Why does my body seems to stick around a certain weight? Breaking through plateaus is very difficult.

Your question really comes down to survival, which is our body’s primary function. In other words, our body ALWAYS wants to conserve as much energy as possible to ensure survival. When we want our bodies to change in some way we are challenging that. It takes energy to change! We really have to trick and force our body to lose weight. This is another reason why crash diets don’t work in the long run. Our body is going to do anything it can to snap back to where it was because it’s panicking! Another reason is that as you lose weight, your metabolism will slow down. This means that eating a certain way may enable you to lose some weight but at a certain point you will hit your maintenance level of caloric intake. At that point you need to adjust your diet and take in fewer calories. Remember that it ALWAYS comes down to calories. If you’re not losing weight it is ultimately because you’re eating too many calories. Sometimes it’s just hard to make those adjustments.

Ernie – I see all those dead lifting videos does that help sciatica? I have old herniated discs (L5 area), and I wonder what is safe for a couch potato at 55?

I’ll say to you what I said to Michael. When you have an injury the most important thing to work on is posture and good movement. The deadlift is a great exercise but only if you have good form with it. I’m not sure what you mean by dog style core thing, but focus on increasing your hip mobility and improving your hip alignment. One of the biggest causes of sciatica is when the hips are misaligned and move poorly. As far as what is safe, start out with walking if you don’t do that much. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Also, when you walk do your best to make sure you are walking in a heel-toe fashion. That will keep you in at least acceptable alignment. You can build up from there. The key is to move, though. Not doing anything is going to cause your symptoms to get worse, not better.

I hope this helps you out with a few things. Let me know if I can help you with any of your fitness confusion!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
510-754-7113
MitchRFitness@gmail.com